PC Specialist Apollo Q8200 GTX+ review

£919
Price when reviewed

The arrival of a new PC Specialist Apollo in the PC Pro labs is a well-rehearsed event – the price usually remains in the same ball park as its predecessor, but performance always receives a healthy boost.

PC Specialist Apollo Q8200 GTX+ review

The company is certainly on to a winning formula with its build quality and competitive pricing, and manages to consistently avoid rocking the boat while regularly giving its engine a tune-up.

This is the latest iteration in the product line, the Apollo Q8200 GTX+. At first glance, nothing has changed: the case is one we’ve seen several times before, a PC Specialist staple, and for good reason. It’s sturdily constructed from black aluminium, with clean, simple lines interrupted only on the front swing-open door, which is spruced up with three silver circles radiating blue light. The door serves the dual purpose of keeping the front of the case uncluttered, and placing a thick expanse of material between the noisy interior and the user. The Apollo is far from quiet, but the door certainly helps to keep noise within tolerable limits.

As far as peripherals go, there are no big surprises. The Logitech keyboard and mouse bundle, common on PCs from many makers, are perfectly usable, but not the best quality. Gamers, in particular, may want to change them reasonably soon for something more robust. Similarly, the 2.1 speakers, also from Logitech, are perfectly usable for most tasks and loud enough to fill a small room, but are not the best for movies and games.

The rest of the visible gadgetry is also familiar. A 24in LG W2452T monitor is the same as that shipped with the PC Specialist Fusion HD 9950. Thanks to its 1,920 x 1,200 resolution it can handle 1080p HD video, and gives acres of desktop space, enough to have several documents on screen at once. Colour reproduction and brightness are both very good, but the viewing angle could admittedly be wider, so it’s not ideal for watching films on in a group. Gamers will be satisfied, though, and not just because of the screen’s fast 5ms response time.

With an Nvidia GeForce 9800 GTX+ graphics card on board handling 3D, plus 4GB of RAM and a powerful Intel Q8200 quad-core chip for everything else, the machine manages to come within six frames per second of the magical 100 milestone in our Crysis benchmark at low settings. It even remains playable at 34 frames per second under our most demanding test. With results like this, even the latest games will prove no problem at all for the Apollo Q8200 GTX+.

With this kind of power, it’s not surprising that this PC scored a healthy 1.40 in our 2D benchmarks. This may be slightly lower than the 1.45 scored by the Apollo Q9450 GTX we reviewed earlier this year, but it’s also £200 cheaper this time around.

Sound performance isn’t the Apollo’s only trick, though. It also has a twin digital tuner card and a Media Centre Remote, making it perfectly serviceable as a personal video recorder. There’s plenty of storage space for media as well, with a terabyte available to house movies, audio and games. This is split over two 500GB drives, leaving you the option of placing them in a RAID array. Should this prove inadequate, then there is room for internal expansion, and an eSATA port on the rear of the case for a fast external disc.

With a huge amount of choice in the desktop market, and increasingly powerful budget models, a machine needs to impress to justify a price tag that comes close to four figures with VAT taken into account. Luckily, the newest Apollo, like its predecessors, does just that. Managing to squeeze out even more performance, while retaining the looks and build quality, is exactly what this company needs to continue doing. If you regularly play games, but want a machine that looks more subtle than the orange-highlighted, carbon-fibre clad, blue LED-lit, specialty gaming rigs on the market, then this is the perfect choice.

Warranty

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Basic specifications

Total hard disk capacity1,000
RAM capacity4.00GB
Screen size24.0in

Processor

CPU familyIntel Core 2 Quad
CPU nominal frequency2.33GHz
CPU overclocked frequencyN/A
Processor socketLGA 775

Motherboard

MotherboardAsus P5K SE
Motherboard chipsetIntel P35 Express
Wired adapter speed1,000Mbits/sec

Memory

Memory typeDDR2

Graphics card

3D performance settingHigh
Graphics chipsetNvidia GeForce 9800 GTX+
DVI-I outputs1
HDMI outputs0
DisplayPort outputs0

Hard disk

Capacity500GB
Internal disk interfaceSATA 300
Spindle speed7,200RPM
Hard disk 2 nominal capacity500GB
Hard disk 2 spindle speed7,200RPM
Hard disk 3 make and modelNone
Hard disk 3 nominal capacityN/A
Hard disk 4 make and modelNone
Hard disk 4 nominal capacityN/A

Drives

Optical disc technologyDVD writer
Optical disk 2 make and modelNone
Optical disk 3 make and modelNone

Monitor

Monitor make and modelLG W2452T
Resolution screen horizontal1,920
Resolution screen vertical1,200
Resolution1920 x 1200
Pixel response time5ms

Additional Peripherals

SpeakersLogitech S220
Speaker type2.1
Sound cardRealtek HD audio
PeripheralsDVB-T TV tuner

Case

Case formatMidi tower

Rear ports

USB ports (downstream)6
eSATA ports1
Modemno

Mouse & Keyboard

Mouse and keyboardLogitech cordless desktop

Operating system and software

OS familyWindows Vista

Noise and power

Idle power consumption105W
Peak power consumption153W

Performance tests

Overall application benchmark score1.40
Office application benchmark score1.17
2D graphics application benchmark score1.61
Encoding application benchmark score1.15
Multitasking application benchmark score1.68
3D performance (crysis) low settings34fps
3D performance settingHigh

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